Vol 25.36 - Vayechi 1 Spanish French Audio Video
The reason Jacob had to adjure Joseph “Do not bury me now in Egypt (Gen 47, 29-31) - According to P’Shat and P’nimiyut.
1. The beginning of this Parsha tells us that Jacob called his son Joseph and requested – “Do not bury me now in Egypt.. And you shall carry me out of Egypt, and you shall bury me in their (my forefathers’) grave." And when Joseph replied: "I will do as you say.", Jacob asked him "Swear to me. " So he swore to him,”
A t first glance it is puzzling (as the commentaries ask). Why didn’t Jacob rely on Joseph's word and require him to swear? Did Jacob G-d forbid suspect that Joseph would not keep his word?!
The commentators answer that the oath was not for Joseph’s sake (to ensure that that he would keep his promise) but because of Pharaoh: Since Pharaoh would want that Jacob be interred in Egypt and would seek measures to prevent Joseph from fulfilling Jacob’s request - Jacob, therefore, adjured Joseph concerning this (and therefore prevented Pharaoh from disallowing Joseph to fulfill the promise, since Pharaoh would not cause Joseph to break an oath)
We have stated many times, that all questions that may arise when studying the simple meaning (P’Shuto shel Mikrah) of Torah are answered in Rashi’s commentary. Therefore it is not understood: Why doesn’t Rashi explain this question (which is a valid question (even) according to P’shat (simple meaning)?
Moreover, the essence of this explanation is indeed brought in Rashi’s commentary, but later on, - in the story about Jacob's (actual) burial. There, Pharaoh tells Joseph, "Go up and bury your father as he adjured you." And Rashi states: “as he adjured you: But were it not for the oath, I would not permit you to go”
But from this itself, that Rashi does not bring this statement, here, at this juncture but only later on etc., proves that this is not the reason (according to Rashi) why Jacob adjured Joseph. ( Because if it was the reason, Rashi would have commented immediately on the passage "Swear to me.")
We must therefore say that Rashi holds that the reason Jacob adjured Joseph is (not to use (the oath) to pressure Pharaoh, but) for the simple purpose of an oath, - to strengthen the matter by Joseph himself.
The question thus returns: What was lacking in Joseph’s word that required Jacob to adjure him specifically with an oath?
2. One could say the explanation is:
The advantage of an oath over a promise is:
When one accepts upon himself to perform something with an oath, he binds himself, in a way that requires that the task must be completed under all circumstances - Even if there are many obstacles and impediments preventing him from fulfilling the task, he will, because if the oath, not consider any other options, and fulfill the oath under all circumstances.
Therefore, there is also a distinction in the diligence in carrying out the task:
When someone (just) promises to do something in the future, it does not (necessarily) constantly “remain on his mind” ( ligen oifen kop); When the actual time comes (to fulfill it) - then he will do everything in his power to carry out his word.
However, when one accepts an oath upon himself (to perform something), one is not distracted, knowing that the task must be done. For if it is not (completed) he will be associated with the severity of breeching an oath.
And this is the (plain) reason why Jacob adjured Joseph “carry me out of Egypt “and did not rely on Joseph’s statement "I will do as you say.". Jacob wanted Joseph to constantly be mindful of this, since, being in a “land not theirs” one could not know the hardships that could later prevent Joseph from fulfilling his promise. Therefore, one needed to find ways and means to prevent, from the onset, that there would be no obstacles in the future.
3. However, it is not completely clear.
Joseph also knew of the hardships (as above) which required preventing from the onset (especially when Jacob immediately asked Joseph to “place your hand (beneath my thigh), - and swear “ that this enjoined a intentness (ziruz) of an oath) - and his promise "I will do as you say." seemingly encompassed this fact, namely that he would “do” this in a manner of “place your hand - and swear “ - Why then did Jacob reiterate by saying “Swear to me”?
The (inner) explanation is:
Taking Jacob ’s body out of Egypt when the Jews still remained in Egypt was seemingly not beneficial to the Bnei Yisroel – since G-d said “I will go down with you to Egypt”. (and specifically – b’Pnimiyut - this is opposite to Joseph ’s ”aspect” (mission) ) And therefore Jacob bound Joseph specifically with an oath.
We can understand by prefacing an explanation:
In this topic (not being buried in Egypt) there is a difference between Jacob and Joseph. Jacob stated: “Do not bury me now in Egypt…” and “carry me out of Egypt” – one should not allow Jacob to remain in Egypt even temporarily, after his death. Whereas, Joseph only adjured the Bnei Yisroel “and you shall take up my bones out of here.” But until the time that “G-d will surely remember you” took us out of Golus, Joseph’s coffin remained in Egypt.
The (inner) reason is:
Jacob is higher than the Galut (exile) of Egypt. Which is why even after Jacob went down to Egypt, he resided in Goshen, separate from the Egyptians. And in that area, there was no condition of Galut – Jews had the “best of the land of Egypt etc” “the fat of the land” and more so “and they acquired property in it” (Goshen) an expression of holding (settle it). Whereas Joseph went down to Egypt proper (and among them) .
And the explanation in this is: The level of Jacob (from himself) is – Atzilut. A world of Achdus (unity) which is completely higher than the worlds of BiYA ( Briah, Yetzirah and Asiya. c.f. Tanya) and certainly (higher) from the darkness of Egypt . Whereas the aspect of Joseph is - “these are the generations (descendents) of Jacob: Joseph” - to draw down the aspect of Jacob into the (lower) worlds: BiYA, even until this lowest world (Asiyah)
And that is why Jacob’s body could not remain in Egypt at all, and even more so “carry (Nisasani) me out of Egypt” which has the same etymology as “lifting up” (princely) “Nisiyut” which is a stronger term than “Take up” (Alisem, Aliya).
Whereas Joseph, who had to accomplish in Egypt, his coffin remained in Egypt the entire time of Galut Mitzraim, in order that (the merit of) Joseph should be together with the Jews in their Galut in Egypt.
Yet Joseph did adjure his brothers to “Take up my bones out of here." – Because the intent of the descent to Egypt was for the ascent afterwards (at the redemption). And Joseph’s coffin remaining in Egypt accomplished, that when the Jews left Egypt and “took up” Joseph ’s bones with them , they also elevated the sparks of holiness the resided in the (aspects of) Egyptians.
And this is also the reason why Jacob adjured Joseph to immediately”carry me out of Egypt” since from Joseph’s (aspect) Jacob should have remained specifically in Egypt, in order that his (Jacob’s) “merit should protect his children” while they are in Galut Mitzraim. (and through this they would be able to accomplish in the Egypt aspects) – Therefore Jacob wanted that Joseph should accept his request in the manner of an oath, above reason and understanding.
As is known, the concept of an oath is to bind the person to complete the task in a manner that is above consideration. So much so that, no reason (or cause) should prevent him from completing the task.
4. However, it is not understood.
Why was Jacob so adamant that his coffin not remain in Egypt, when it could have caused an elevation in the aspects (sparks of) the Egyptians?
One could say the explanation is: “A prisoner cannot free himself from jail. (Berachot 5b)”. Therefore in order that the Jews, while in Egypt, be able to leave (go up from) Egypt and also elevate the aspects of Egypt, they need a connection – the son is the lap of his father - to that which is above Egypt (prison).
Therefore Jacob had to be higher than Egypt and more so had to adjure Joseph to ”carry me out of Egypt” since through this he “bound” Joseph with the level of Jacob ’s status as being higher than Egypt (”lift me out of Egypt”) And through this there could be, concerning all Jews, the “and I will also bring you up”, the going out (Aliya) of the Egyptian Exile.
5. From this we have a lesson for our time, in this last Galut.
However good the situation is for the Jews in Golus – whether physically or spiritually - even if one has “the best of the land of Egypt etc the fat of the land”, he learns Torah and keeps Mitzvot, even if he lives a truly spiritual life -
Similar to “And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt” as the Alter Rebbe translates: “Since Jacob established in Egypt a “Bais Talmud (Yeshiva), he also “lived” in Egypt” –
Nevertheless, one must constantly know and remember, that even in that situation, one needs to strongly ask to ”carry me out of Egypt” even to the point of an oath! For this is Golus – it is not the proper place for a Jew and he must be lifted out.
And this must be, as above, in a manner of an oath. Notwithstanding that it is a principle of the thirteen principles of Faith of our Torah: “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah; and even though he may tarry, nonetheless I wait every day for his coming.”
And he knows that the completeness and purpose is the Geulah (redemption)
(As the holy Torah states and explains in the written and oral Torah – as the Rambam explains).
Only this is a thing which affects his innermost soul, until he becomes absorbed in hoping, beseeching and demanding -”carry me out of Egypt”!
And as we say in every prayer (on weekdays) - “we hope for Your salvation all day”, which means that three times a day, one announces and publicizes that he hopesfor Your salvation “all day” – A whole day and every day.
And through this constant “announcement” - that one hopes and beseeches G-d for the complete Redemption (Geulah shleimah) – one is conducted through this Galut according to the will of G-d (who sent the Jews into Galut):
And then Golus will not have effected any descent to a Jew, G-d Forbid, and G-d protect us. On the contrary, it will be “lift me out of Egypt”, the elevation – the advantage of light over darkness – until the level of “lift the heads of the Bnei Yisroel, of each Jew and all Jews.
( M’Ssichat Asarah b’Tevet 5743
Motzai Shabbat Parshat Beshalach 5738)
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